When I was pregnant with Primo, my first, I remember maternity clothes being SUCH a drag. All the stuff I could afford was so frumpy or generic, so utiliarian, and the fashionista in me balked. So besides some cheap jeans and black pants from Old Navy, I mostly culled my maternity wardrobe from the $5-$20 rack of Urban Outfitters, where I bought empire-waisted stuff a size larger than I'd normally wear. Since I was minutely small, that meant buying a Medium. The reason I can share this with you without fear of you being so disgusted you un-follow my blog is that I am as disgusted as you are. The clothes I sported as maternity in my first pregnancy didn't fit me in my regular non-pregnant days before I got knocked up this time. What can I say? That's youth for you.
This second time around, not only was I too big for those Barbie-sized non-maternity-maternity clothes, I was still too poor to buy a real maternity wardrobe and way too belaguered with a two year-old in my charge to give a shit. So I wore David's long underwear. He is 6'4" and the sleeves were about five inches too long but it got the job done. It provided warmth to my physical form,
This pregnancy is a whole new ball game. Finally, after seven years, my peers have joined in on the baby racket and all my girlfriends have recently had babies. Since they waited til thier mid-thirties to start a family, instead focusing on thier careers, they have enough money to buy nice maternity clothes, and since they live in NYC apartments, they have no room to store them. So they've all been incredibly helpful and generous, handing over bags full of Motherhood Maternity apparel for me to borrow. Thus outfitted, I have discovered something: I love maternity clothes.
Though I complain almost non stop about the discomforts of pregnancty, there is one thing I have no beef with and that is the way my pregnant body looks. The upside of relentless morning sickness is that I am actually thinner as a pregnant person than non-pregnant. Not weight wise of course, but in general appearance. Its not on purpose, and if you'd have witnessed me putting away a nutella and strawberry Belgian waffle five mionute ago, you'd be convinced of that. Its just the progesterone poisoning lasts for so long so intensely and then keeps me vaguely nauseous for my whole pregnancy that it keeps my appetite lower than when I'm not having a baby. Yes, I'm green in the face and have aged thirty years in nine months from the strain of it all, bur if we're just looking from the neck down, I do great in my pregnancies. Big, bulbous belly and a huge rack. Hell, I feel like a damn Venus Hottentot. Suddenly, instead of hiding my belly (which I've been doing ever since someone asked me if I was pregnant a few months after having Seconda (and, to clarify, I WASN'T)), I get to flaunt it. I can suddenly sport tight-fighting tees again because hey, my belly is SUPPOSED to be huge. I love my massive mid-section. I'm proud of it.
But the other reason I love maternity wear is that I am totally off the hook about my wardrobe. If I manage to cover my massive belly without wearing my husband's XL clothing, well then I'm a fashion success story. The bar is so very low. I find people expect me to look like shit warmed over and if I look even slightly better than that - like if I'm wearing a clearn button down that actually fits me -- they are wowed.
"You look amazing!"
What they really mean is, "its amazing you don't look as bad as I thought you would." Same diff.
The other great part about a maternity wardrobe is no matter how well appointed your pregnancy closet, its going to be limited which means getting dressed in the morning is a cinch. Its all basic pieces which enable you to more or less get dressed in the dark. As someone who's never filled my closet with basics, I find this simplicity wildly liberating.
Also, the elastic waistbands. They are God's gift to women, not just pregnancy ones, either. EVERYTHING should be made with an elastic waistband. I love elastic waistbands so much, I may just cave and purchase those pajama jeans I've seen on infommercials. People would make fun of me but really, I think the euphoria would overrride my shame.
For all these reasons, I may never stop wearing maternity clothes. Never.
Nicole's a born and bred New Yorker, incurable neurotic, perfectionist, and mother superior to two firecracker kids. She lives in Brooklyn with her family and contributes essays and articles for mommy mags like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Time Out NY Kids.